With 1000 miles of incredibly beautiful coastline facing the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north, it is no surprise that the Dominican Republic, located on the island of Hispaniola, attracts vacationers and honeymooners from around the world. The country is enveloped by breathtakingly diverse topography consisting of gorgeous beaches, majestic mountain ranges, lush valleys, cascading waterfalls, ancient caves and tropical rainforests.
The Dominican Republic’s exceptional beaches, all-inclusive resorts and temperate climate are the big drawing cards at destinations like Punta Cana, La Romana and Puerto Plata, but the rich Spanish Colonial history permeating Santo Domingo and small towns enchants travelers who venture beyond their beach resorts. A trip to the DR refreshes and rejuvenates—escape the cares of the world and luxuriate in the warm hospitality, myriad of adventurous watersports and recreational activities, beachside nightlife and slow pace.
Golfers will find themselves on some of the best courses in the Caribbean, playing on plush green fairways with stunning ocean backdrops. Snorkel with angelfish and lionfish, whitewater raft one of the many rivers, go on a waterfall excursion, take in the panoramic view as you zipline high above the rainforest, or hop into an all-terrain vehicle for an inland safari. With so much exhilarating excitement in the DR, the adventure never stops!
Dive into Dominican culture. Music and dance, heavily influenced by West African and Spanish rhythms, reverberate through daily Dominican life, particularly the merengue and bachata. Sample traditional Dominican cuisine like savory mangú, made from plantains, and sweet majarete, a delicious corn pudding sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg. Wash it down with a tantalizing tropical rum drink as you walk along the water’s edge.
Relax in the warm waters of picturesque sun-kissed beaches in Punta Cana, one of the premier beach destinations in the Dominican Republic. Lounge under gently swaying palm trees as sparkling turquoise waters caress the shore. Pamper yourself with a spa treatment or a massage on the beach just outside your luxurious ocean-front room. Choose from a wealth of exciting recreational activities at your resort and in the surrounding area. After a satisfying round of golf on a world-class course, grab a potent Mama Juana beverage, rumored to be an aphrodisiac. Explore Parque Nacional Cotubanamá and its amazing beaches, mangroves, caves and forests. For an inland adventure, hike through the rainforest and across a suspension bridge to discover Hoyo Azul, a splendid turquoise blue hole surrounded by limestone cliffs. Punta Cana will exceed your expectations!
Puerto Plata, a beach-goers paradise on the ‘Amber Coast,’ is a rich blend of countless cultures with a distinctive Dominican twist. Most resorts and hotels are actually in nearby Playa Dorada, one of the most popular beaches in the immediate area known for its sugary sand and abundance of water sports. Start your day learning about the history of rum making with a tasting tour at Brugal Rum Distillery. Ride the cable car up to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres for awe-inspiring views while admiring the mountain top botanical garden and large replica of Brazil’s Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking the city below. No visit is complete without hiking through the rainforest to experience 27 Charcos of Damajaqua, waterfalls where you can canyon, rock climb and jump into the pools beneath the falls.
A vacation in La Romana, on the southeast coast of the DR, is synonymous with luxurious relaxation, replete with beachfront resorts, fine dining, shopping, water sports and island excursions. Once home to the largest sugar cane mill in the Americas, La Romana made the shift into tourism when the mill owners debuted the upscale Casa de Campo Resort in 1974, complete with an award-winning Pete Dye golf course. One of the highlights of a stay in La Romana is Altos de Chavón, an amazing replica of a Medieval Mediterranean village with St. Stanislaus Church as its marvelous centerpiece, surrounded by boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, bars and a 5,000-seat Grecian-style outdoor amphitheater hosting performances by Dominican and world-renowned artists. Don’t miss the fascinating underground caves in nearby Bayahíbe, notably Cueva de Las Maravillas, with hundreds of well-preserved thousand-year-old Taino pictographs and Cueva del Chicho, with its brilliant blue water, located inside Cotubanamá National Park.
If you visit DR between January and March head to Samaná Bay, ‘Sanctuary of the Humpback Whales,’ where thousands of whales return for mating season. Take a ferry or boat excursion to Los Haitises National Park, an increasingly popular ecotourism hotspot. This remarkable haven for biodiversity features mangroves along the water’s edge, over 200 species of birds, hundreds of variations of flora and fauna, and a network of limestone caves punctuated with stalactites, stalagmites and ancient pictographs created by the Taino Indians. Portions of the movie Jurassic Park were filmed here because of its authenticity.
The capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo, is the oldest city in the New World, established when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas more than 500 years ago. Explore Zona Colonial, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, to discover 16th-century ruins amidst beautifully restored Spanish Colonial buildings housing museums, hotels and restaurants. Visit Parque Colón, a lively square at the heart of this district, where the first cathedral in the Americas still stands. Wander along Calle El Conde, the primary pedestrian street lined with shops and cafes, stopping to enjoy a refreshing beverage and meal near the river. Geology enthusiasts will appreciate the exquisite semi-precious stones featured at the Larimar Museum and the striking examples of golden-hued fossilized amber on display at The Amber Museum. Santo Domingo’s active nightlife is comprised of a wide range of options from quiet wine bars to dance clubs and casinos.